What Do You Mean 8 Hours on a Bus? Franz Josef to Queensland

Unlike well oiled machines, when the alarm goes off at 6:10am, we do not jump out of bed. With all of the creaks and cracks, we could use a dose of WD40 in a few joints here and there to make movement more efficient. I tried not waking fully so that the realization of an 8 hour bus ride does not fully permeate my consciousness. If that happened I may have unavoidable urges to harm Ron for booking the trip when he so well knows my aversion to bus rides. Actually I have a loathing of any bus trip that lasts over 3 hours.

These long distance buses stop directly across from that hateful place where we did the glacier tour. We were early, hoping that one of the cafés would be open for coffee, but darn if they don’t open until 8am when the bus is due. Too much liquid is also a problem for long bus trips. Powers of suggestion make me very vulnerable to needing a bathroom. All I need is to overhear someone say something related and boom, I have to go. I try not to sit next to parent with children. If they ask the kid if she/he needs a potty, BOOM. They got me. Besides the obvious triggers: bladder, urinate, bathroom, pee, loo, WC, there are the subconscious ones. Those include fluid, stream, waterfall, rain, drizzle, tinkle, dribble, faucet, nappie, diaper, leakage, bedpan, catheter and bladder seaweed. I am a goner holding my knees together like a young woman on a first date with the school Romeo.

When our booked NakedBus turned out to be a Newman’s bus, we were only momentarily confounded, but the young and agile driver Garrett, assured us it was on a trick by the companies. We boarded with plenty of seating options; gleefully choosing the seat right in front of the toilet seemed like a smart move until I discovered it was locked. Oh, the pressure: water pressure on the bladder and mental pressure trying to convince myself I don’t own a bladder.

One thing I realized on this bus that has been true of all of the buses we have been on is that the windows are pristine clean. We have never had a problem seeing out or taking pictures through the windows. Even today, it rained heavily, but the side windows were spot free.

For an 8 hour bus trip, my best method of coping is to sleep for 7 ½ of them. Garrett our driver, however, had a different plan. He had the audacity to point out a remarkable site that we should not miss out on about every twenty minutes or so. Just as I started to doze, Garrett was on his headphone loudspeaker sharing a phenomenally incredible aspect of Mother Nature’s works of art. As we knew before, New Zealand would not exist if it were not earthquakes that pushed up land from the sea and plunged it together. Glaciers and volcanoes jumped in with their contributions. In the area we were, they still have 300 tremors a year. According to Garrett, scientists believe NZ is 200 years overdue for another horrendously powerful and destructive earthquake. It seems the one in Christchurch was not big enough.

Garret was atypical of bus drivers. He was young and was probably in perfect proportion for his height/weight ratio. If there was any excess fat, he had to have locked it up in the luggage storage, because it certainly was not on him. Soon it became apparent that this was no ordinary point A to point B mode of transport, but more like a tour bus ride. Close to every hour or close to it, we would stop at a vista point for a camera opportunity or a bathroom break. Garrett drove us to the half-way point where he would leave us to drive another bus coming from the opposite direction back to where we started. This allows both drivers to return at night to their home area. With the drivers changing buses, none of the passengers from either direction had to do anything, but relax. We arrived early, giving us the opportunity to walk through part of the sub-tropical rainforest to view a waterfall. 
When we returned from the waterfall, Peter was our driver. Peter was a typical bus driver: close to sixty years old and heavy enough to make Santa Claus feel like an anorexic. He was just as pleasant as Garrett and shared just as much, but there were some concerns. When Garrett was not talking to us, we could assume his headset loudspeaker was turned off. All was quiet.

Alternatively, when Peter was not talking, we all heard AHHHHH-HEEEEEMMM repeatedly for the first half hour. Immediately even the most resistant passenger snapped their seatbelt securely, had their seat upright, replaced the tray table in a locked position and assumed the crash position. Ron verbalized it while the rest of us thought it: Peter fell asleep at the wheel. Of course, none of us were brave enough to unbuckle our seatbelt to find out for sure either. Other assumptions were that he was watching a porn movie while driving, practicing to be a Lamaze coach, or rehearsing to be a stand-in for Darth Vadar.

As it turned out, he was awake, he was just trying to shove air from his mouth with a guided assist from his nose past his belly into a search and rescue mission to his lungs. This sound would go on for at least an hour. When it stopped, we all assumed the crash position again thinking he may have died at the wheel.

After a break and walk outside, Peter had better breathe control, but his voice on the loudspeaker sounded like construction trucks as they speed over a freshly graveled road. He really is a nice guy, but seriously he could stroke out at the wheel.

Each time I was tempted to sleep, there was something outside the window that kept my attention like a prisoner. Every mile was extraordinarily beautiful and it changes so often, you never have a chance to tire of it. If anything, you want more of the same for just a few more minutes. Some of the mountains look like they are covered with a Brussel sprout pox, little round lumps of greenery all over its face. This is like the vegan version of Chicken Pox, for those who just don’t deal with animal products.

To see what I mean you will have to check out the photos for this trip. We are again at a YHA, Youth Hostel Association here in Queensland. There are two of them; we are at the YHA Lakefront. Sure as it is named we have a magnificent view of the lake and mountains out the window. We walked the town some, booked a tour of the Lord of the Rings and went for Thai for dinner. Another good day!  

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